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National Conference 2006
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Health & Special Needs

Coordinator: Stephanie Thiesen


Community Partners:

Best Buddies

Capital Area Therapuetic Riding Association (CATRA)

Paxton Ministries

Morning Star Pregnancy Services

Best Buddies 

Best Buddies Logo


"A friend is someone who knows the song in your heart and can sing it back to you when you have forgotten the words."

Mission Statement

Enhancing the lives of people with intellectual disabilities by providing opportunities for one-to-one friendships and integral employment.

Vision Statement

Best Buddies ambitiously envisions a world where people with intellectual disabilities are so successfully integrated into our schools, our workplaces and our general communities that our current efforts and services will be unnecessary.

Volunteer Information

Students, as college buddies, can establish one-on-one friendships with special needs adults at Paxton Ministries in Harrisburg.  All of the college buddies and Paxton buddies will meet once a month for a group activity/event (in the past we've had a pizza parties, dinner and movie nights, campfires, game nights, arts and crafts night and holiday parties.  Also, one other activity between individual buddy pairs is encouraged each month, as is weekly correspondence between the buddy pairs.


True friendship is something that everyone wants and needs in their lives, and people with intellectual disabilities have historically been isolated from social opportunities that shape productive lives. But everyone has amazing gifts to give! Founded in 1989, Best Buddies is a vibrant, international organization that has grown from one original chapter to more than 1,000 middle school, high school, and college campuses across the country and internationally. Even though Best Buddies has advanced tremendously in its short existence, many areas of the country and many regions of the world still lack programs to help people with intelectual disabilities become part of mainstream society. Best Buddies' goal is to continue expanding nationwide and at the local community level, while more broadly engaging the global community within our programs.


       Capital Area Therapuetic Riding Association   Paxton Fair

                 CATRA logo


Mission Statement

CATRA is a non-profit organization providing recreational and therapuetic horseback riding to physically and mentally challenged people.

Ministry Overview

CATRA has been around for twenty years (1985-2005)! Aside from the owners, Ben and Shirley Nolt, the program is run completely by volunteers, who do everything from assisting at lessons to cleaning stalls, mowing grass, and every sort of barn and office work. They have over 100 riders in lesson every week, each whom require from 1 to 4 volunteer assistants per lesson. In their own words, "Our volunteer needs are enormous! CATRA volunteers work hard, but we have alot of fun, and we get the satisfaction of doing work that is worth while and fullfilling." CATRA is a very special place where everyone is accepted equally.

                     Volunteer Options

Students work with handicapped children, helping them build confidence in themselves through learning to ride horseback. There is no experience necessary, just a willingness to be a friend. Trips go out on Saturdays.

Paxton Ministries  


Paxton Ministries is a Christian, non-profit community of homes, serving adults who may be challenged with social, mental, or emotional needs. They provid long term, affordable housing, food, and support. Paxton Ministries ministers to the whole person, regardless of one's ability to pay, and help with the development of life skills and resources to live as independently as possible. They also offer a supportive, family-like environment where love and compassion are a way a life - where dignity and self-worth are recognized in every individual.

                Volunteer Information

Students spend time with residents and seek to learn from and form relationships with them in the love of Jesus Christ. Trips go out on both Wednesdays and Saturdays.


In 1981, God gave a vision to a group of Christians who were concerned about the lack of quality housing for disadvantaged adults in Harrisburg, PA. The former Messiah Home on Paxton Street was sitting empty. In fiath this group offered to buy the property with a $100,000 down payment within three months.It was a bold step of faith, because they had no money. But they knew that if it truly was God's vision, He would provide. And He did. Area Christian helped clean, paint, repair and furnish the building and their first residents moved in during November of 1981. Within two years of opening all the rooms were full and a waiting list was started. To this day, Paxton Ministries continues to maintain a long waiting list. Owning two personal care homes, Paxton Ministries now serves over 100 residents.

                   Morning Star Pregnancy Services

                   Help out at this abortion clinic alternative by sorting donations and assisting with office work. Possible service hours are flexible,

                  any weekday between 2-5 pm.












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